The agents of Equine Therapy

There are three agents at work within Equine Therapy:

  • The horse
  • The patient
  • The multi-disciplinary support team

The horse

It is a docile animal with a large physical form and strength. It allows us to ride on its back, touch and stroke it and becomes a friend of the rider, in this case the equine therapy patient. All of this creates an emotional relationship with horse which in turn becomes an important character in the patient's life and a point of contact with the world around him/her.

The patient and horse establish a harmonious relationship and to act together. The type of relationship that is created is emotional and is established through mutual trust.

Horseback riding provides sensory input through movement that is variable, rhythmic and repetitive. The response of the patient to the horse's motion is similar to the movements of the human pelvis when walking. The variation in the horse's pace enables different degrees of the movement sensations transmitted to the patient.

  • A walking horse transmits around 110 pulsations per minute to the rider, in a series of three-dimensional movements: back and forward, up and down, left and right and rotational. The stimulus generated my the horse is transmitted to all parts for the body.
  • The horse is carefully selected for use by patients based on its movement and behavior.
  • It is advisable that the horse is no taller than about 15 hands/1.60 meters to facilitate the work of assistants.
  • A good horse should have a strong back, rounded hindquarters allowing a smooth step that is long and regular.
  • For patients with grave physical disabilities, the horse must possess a long, rhythmic and regulated step.
  • The horse should be docile, not scare easily, be at least 5 years old, in good physical and mental health, be obedient and be a gelding.

The patient

Anyone can benefit from riding on horseback.  We can divide patients into two groups:


The socially maladjusted that are willing and capable to work with the horse. The objective is to work on various areas: psychological, communicative, social and learning. Not only riding the horse, but also participating in the work of cleaning and preparing the horse.

Equine Therapy.


Patients with severe physical disabilities and/or psychological problems that initially limit their interaction to riding/sitting on the horse. Examples of these type of people are those with: cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, bulimia, chronic disease, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, neuro-degenerative diseases, diseases based trauma, brain trauma, intellectual disability, autism, Down syndrome, behavioral problems, drug addicts, criminals and many other disabling conditions.


An important aspect that is often overlooked is the leisure activity that the horse gives in addition to the therapy. Equine Therapy, Hypotherapy and Leisure in most cases end up as part of the overall therapy session.

The multi-disciplinary support team

Different professionals work in the Equine Therapy/Hypotherapy multidisciplinary team.

The team has professionals such as doctors, psychologists, educators, occupational therapists for special education, physiotherapists, riding instructors and stable-boys to assist in cleaning and preparing the horses.


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